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Today, I am pleased to announce the beta of the Docker volume driver for vSphere. VMware is also making the source code for this driver available under open source (GitHub). The open source community and customers can now use the driver, contribute code and modify the volume driver. This is yet another storage focused initiative from VMware to enable our customers to enjoy the benefits of using vSphere for deploying Docker Containers. As you may recall, we introduced a vSphere Volume Driver for Flocker in August 2015 to enable our customers to use storage volumes with an early version of Docker.

Docker is a popular container platform used by many VMware vSphere customers to package and deploy next-gen container based applications. To support persistent storage requirements of these next-gen container apps, Docker introduced Docker Volume Plugin framework. Our goal at VMware is to both align with Docker’s support for container volumes and enable our customers to leverage enterprise ready vSphere Storage with Docker containers. The Docker Volume driver for vSphere enables vSphere users to create and manage container data volumes on familiar vSphere Storage technologies such as VSAN, VMFS and NFS.  Plus, all the standard vSphere capabilities (HA, DRS etc) are readily available for use with containers.

A few high level technical details about the Docker Volume driver for vSphere:

ThvSphereDatastoree volume driver allows you to create a data volume on any vSphere Storage platform (VSAN, VMFS, NFS), and use it to manage persistent storage requirements independent of container & VM lifecycle.

This driver has two parts: 1) vSphere Docker Volume Plugin, which is installed inside of a Docker Host (VM) that allows users to instantiate new Docker Volumes and 2) vSphere Data Volume Driver, which is installed in the vSphere/ESXi host to handle the VMDK creation and map the Docker Volume request back to the Docker Hosts.

This driver makes it very simple to use Containers with vSphere storage and provides key benefits such as:

  • Programmability (Infrastructure as code): API driven provisioning and policy configuration enabling Self-service. Users are able to provision storage for containers using Docker API/CLI without having to co-ordinate with IT Administrators.
  • Data Mobility: vSphere Shared storage enables seamless movement of containers between various vSphere hosts within a cluster without having to move the data.
  • Single HCL: This enables customers to use same vSphere Storage for VMs and Containers and allows them to run side-by-side on same vSphere infrastructure

Requirements for using the driver – This driver requires vSphere version 6.0 or later and a Docker Host (VM) running Docker 1.9+.

Some of the key Features of vSphere Docker Volume Driver are:

  • Integration with Docker: Allows customer to create and manage container volumes using familiar Docker tools e.g. Docker CLI, Docker UCP, Docker Compose, Swarm etc.
  • Security: The driver is very secure and does not require sharing vCenter credentials with Docker Hosts (VMs)
  • Storage Policy Based Management: Customers can leverage VSAN named policies like FailuresToTolerate (FTT), QoS, Deduplication & Compression at the granularity of individual container volumes.
  • vCenter based management: Familiar management console for vSphere Admins to use, no new UI to learn. In addition, an Admin CLI on host offers greater visibility into operational aspects like capacity management, access control and defining custom storage policies.
  • Frictionless deployment on vSphere 6.0 and above

The following screen shot shows a simple command to create Docker Volume in vSphere environment:

Dockercmd

The Docker Volume Driver is intended for multiple audiences and at least two groups can realize immediate benefits of using the driver:

  • Developers: Internal Developers developing or testing containerized apps in VMs running on vSphere.
  • IT Administrators: Admins trying to deploy container based applications on existing vSphere Infrastructure

We look forward to making the driver Generally Available soon. In the meantime, please feel free to use the driver and let us know your feedback at cna-storage@vmware.com.

For more details on how to install and use Docker Volume driver for vSphere you can refer to the following blogs:


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